Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), which protects endangered and threatened species and their habitats, can delay or prevent real estate development that might harm a protected species or its habitat.
A coalition of environmental groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for not listing an isolated population of Greater Sage Grouse on the CA-NV border as endangered. Prior to the decision not to list, the FWS worked with government partners and the private sector, including developers and farmers, to preserve habitat and put in other mechanisms to protect the species. The effort was hailad as a model for the protection of other spceies.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (the “Services”) have promulgated major changes to their critical habitat regulations. The result will be more designation of state, local and private land as critical habitat, and increased regulatory burdens and costs on land activities. Effects will be felt by a wide range of public and private sector entities across government and industry sectors, including energy, land and mineral development, real estate, banking, commercial transactions and agriculture. The changes take effect on March 14, 2016.
Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), declined to place the Greater Sage Grouse on the Endangered Species list, stating that unprecedented cooperative, voluntary, conservation actions by advocates, state governments and the private sector had sufficiently increased the bird's population and protected its habitat.